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PG78 in the Second World War 1939-1945 - The Wartime Memories Project -

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    Those known to have been held in or employed at


    during the Second World War 1939-1945.

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    Cpl. Charles Henry Francis "Carl" Galliers 14th Reserve MT Coy, C Section Royal Army Service Corps

    My paternal grandfather Corporal Charles Henry Francis Galliers, RASC "C" section, 14th reserve MT coy, middle east forces in 1941 was in the POW Camp PG78 in Italy after 1942 (not sure of dates) and then stalag IVB during spring 1944 (I have a letter sent home with april 1944 on it). He died 3 years ago, the only memories he told were of being starving hungry in the Italian camp and chewing boot leather to stave off hunger and when a donkey was brought into camp pulling a cart it didn't live to leave! He was treated better by the Germans. I have some photos with a couple of other POWs names on the back - Geoff Galloway and George Frick (?can't read the writing properly looks like Frick) - also some photos of my grandad working on building a war memorial and on the back it reads "newborderf am elbe, (again not sure of spelling) prisoners of war cemetary, taken 7th may 1944". There is also a photo of a german guard - his name on the back " ? officer Siebel". Anyone who has any info about my grandad, his platoon, the camps he was in I would be interested to hear from them. I will send scans of the photos I have later when I have mastered the technology!

    Sam Galliers

    Ronald William "Mac" McNichol

    I am very grateful to have found this site. My father, Dr. Ronald McNichol, was trained in England and flew bombing raids over North Africa. He was a navigator/bombadier (Wellington) who survived being shot down twice, and was a POW in P.G. 78 in Sulmona, Italy. He and his dear friend, Jack Harlton, escaped from P.G. 78 during a time of confusion when the guards thought the war had ended and opened the gates. It had not, and it is my understanding that many of them were shot as a result. For my family, Daddy's service and adventures in World War II are rich sources of pride and gratitude. He is our hero. Before his death, he wrote about several of his wartime adventures. I would be glad to post them if anyone is interested. Also, if there is anyone who knew my Dad or knows of P.G. 78, I would like to hear from them. Many thanks for preserving these priceless histories.


    Sergeant Des Dyson 17th Coast Battery Royal Artilliery

    I am hoping to find out more about my fathers'regiments' movements. Dad was captured in Tobruk and ended up in Campo PG78 from 6th June 1942 until he escaped in Sept. or Oct. of 1943. He was Sgt. Des Dyson, (843272) 17th Coast Battery, RA.

    Clive Dyson

    Sergeant Des Dyson 17th Coast Battery Royal Artilliery

    I am hoping to find out more about my fathers'regiments' movements. Dad was captured in Tobruk and ended up in Campo PG78 from 6th June 1942 until he escaped in Sept. or Oct. of 1943. He was Sgt. Des Dyson, (843272) 17th Coast Battery, RA.

    Clive Dyson

    Dvr. Eric Alexander Dewe New Zealand Defence Force

    I have recently accessed my father’s war records from the NZDF Archives and found that my father, Eric Alexander Dewe, was a POW in Stalag 4B and 4A. He was a driver with NZDF rank of private, who was captured in Egypt and interred in Italy. He was held in Campo PG 75, Campo PG 85 and Campo PG 78 where he was liberated by the Italian guards when Italy capitulated. He was captured by the Germans two weeks after the fall of Italy, and transferred to Germany being held in Stalag 4B and Stalag 4A, from where he was iberated by Russian troops.

    Carol Smith

    Cpl. Henry Edward "Jeff" Jefferyes 9th (London) Battalion. Rifle Brigade

    My father was Cpl. Henry Edward Jefferyes known as Jeff. He had joined the TA in 1936 in Whitechapel, His regiment was 9th London Rifle Brigade (Tower Hamlets Rifles). He was taken prisoner at Tobruk and his first Camp was Lavoro in Italy from where he escaped and was recaptured. He was taken to Campo PG78 Sulmona and escaped again with 7 others. I would like to know who they were. He was taken by Italian Partisans to live in village of Monta d'Alba, Northern Italy and had an interesting time with them. The Monta Town Hall has details of him and 2 others who were brought in by Partisans. He left there in September 1943 and walked to the American lines arriving on 11.11.1943 and was repatriated to UK. Dad was presented with a religious medallion by the Cardinal from the Vatican who visited Sulmona.

    Ann Jefferyes

    CSM. Frank Charles Ricketts 1st Battalion South Wales Borderers

    My father, Frank Ricketts was a career soldier who followed his father W.C Ricketts into the South Wales Borderes after leaving the Duke of Yorks Military school in Dover. He enlisted on 1st Aug 1930. He served in Wazistan on the North West frontier from 1936/37.

    On the outbreak of WW2 his Battalion was sent to Iraq & then on to Libya. Nearly all the of the 1st Battalion was captured by the Italians in June 1942. Some were sent to Chieti in south east Italy while the rest (including my Father were sent to Sulmona). In Sept 1943 those in the Chieti camp were tranfered to Sulmona. At the end of Sept 1943 a mass escape was made. Of all the escapees only four officers and about thirty men made good their escape. The rest were either recaptured and sent to Germany, Stalag 11A (one of which was my Father). Or, as in the cases of Captain Wright, Lt J Tidy and the men with them, they were all killed by the Germans.

    Steve Ricketts

    Rfm. Nathaniel Frank Miller Tower Hamlets Rifles

    My father, Frank Miller served in the Tower Hamlets Rifles from 1939 although he was in a territorial Unit prior to war being declared. He was taken prisoner in North Africa in 1941/1942 and was imprisoned at Sulmona Campo 78 till 1943 when he was moved to Lamsdorf Stalag 344 in German occupied Poland. He then took part in the Long March till liberated by US troops in 1945. Finally made it back to the UK and was demobbed in 1946. His German POW number was 220158.

    He died in 1997 aged 79. I recently found a quantity of old photos and notes amongst paperwork after my mother's death which relate to his wartime service and which I am still examining.

    Alan Miller

    Pte. Leslie Masterman Yorks & Lancs

    My grandad, Leslie Masterman (1923-2002), from Leeds, served as a Private in the Yorks/Lancs Regiment during the Second World War. He was a POW in Italy and Germany after being captured by German troops in Tunisia in 1943. The following is what my family and I have pieced together from the few bits of information he gave us: Pte Masterman, L 4758866 He was taken to camp PG66 in Italy, which (with help from the internet) appears to have been in Capua.  We got this number from a photograph: PG66PM3400.  The first four digits aside, we're not sure what the numbers mean. He also stayed at camp PG53 (Campo Concentremento 53. Sforzacosta). He was moved to Germany, where he (as far as we can tell) stayed at camp PG78 (location unknown), before being squashed into an open rail truck and taken to Stalag 357  (in Oerbke, I think). He spent time at Stalag 4DZ near Annaburg.  (Again, we got this number from a photograph, but we're not sure what it means:  226387  D602.) I think it was here where he was forced to work on repairing a damaged railway line near an ammunition factory (which was regularly bombed by the RAF). He was certain they were sent to work there to reduce numbers, and many men died working there. He, along with two other prisoners (Trooper Walter Rowley and Lance Corporal James "Busty" Speight), fled Stalag 4DZ on April 14, 1945. The day before they fled, they were told by a British R.A.M.C major that the whole camp was to be marched east the following day. The march began and suddenly the air raid sirens sounded.  As Allied planes swooped to strafe a nearby airfield, the three of them made a run for it, taking with them two of the German sentries (they told them they would make it all right for them with the Americans, who were rumoured to be getting closer).

    In the village of Nienburg, they told the local Burgomaster that they had been sent to make their way back to camp.  A German girl who had been a worker in the camp kitchen helped my grandad and the other POW's by tipping them off about the Burgomaster being suspicious. He had sent for the SS, who were to arrive the next morning. The German girl also told them the way to the American lines, so they pulled out quickly and eventually found an American patrol near Halle (Saale). The Americans took some convincing that they were British POW's, but they eventually realised they were genuine and couldn't make them more welcome. They later learned that the guards who stayed behind were shot by the SS for assisting them to escape. My grandad returned home to Leeds on a Tuesday in May 1945. There are an awful lot of gaps that I'd love to fill in, and he probably stayed at a few more POW camps.  I'm unsure where he was when at the end of the war but think it's most likely to be Stalag 4DZ in Annaburg. I have no idea how much time he spent at any one camp. I also have no idea how he travelled from Tunisia to Italy after being captured. I know the prisoners marched for many miles through Italy and traveled in open army trucks up through Germany to the North East. If anyone has information about ANYTHING I have mentioned above, I'd appreciate hearing from you.

    Tom Masterman

    Richard George Tossell Royal Army Medical Corps

    Richard George Tossell born 1911 Barnstaple, North Devon. Occupation pre-war was as a Double Decker Bus Driver on the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe route. He Joined up in 1940 and served with the R.A.M.C, R.A.S.C. as an Ambulance Driver in Egypt and after POW stint was a Tank Transport Driver to the front lines in Germany. He was held as a POW from April of 1941 - April 1943 P.G.78 Sulmona Italy after being taken prisoner during the The Western Desert Campaign, Operation Compass and German General Erwin Rommel's Africa Corp's first offensive Operation Sonnenblume April 1941 He was transported to Italy by boat crammed in the lower deck on mattresses under RAF bombing.

    While in captivity Dick took advantage of other soldiers sharing their expertise, teaching classes. He especially enjoyed the classes by electricians and used those skills rewiring his home after the war. He took every advantage he could to learn and read books. He always spoke very highly of the International Red Cross and the packages sent and swears that's what kept him alive. Occasionally a name would be called, the man, never to be seen again. They didn't know the fate of those being called, whether they were beaten, tortured, executed or released.

    Early in April 1943 after two years as a prisoner,the POW's were told they would be going home the following week during a prisoner exchange with Italian prisoners. On 13/14th Apr 1943 during transit home POW trains hid under a tunnel while 211 RAF planes bombed for 8 hrs. The harbor of La Spezia, Italy, especially the naval base with three battleships in port. Four Lancaster bombers shot down. The battleships were unharmed. When the POW's emerged the mountainside seemed to be ablaze with incendiaries and a big tanker was ‘going up in smoke’. While they waited in the tunnel the railway behind them was blown up. They continued by train through Milan and Southern France arriving Lisbon 18 Apr 1943. Dick was repatriated via Lisbon on H.M.H.S. Newfoundland Hospital Ship and arrived Avonmouth, England, on Good Friday 23 April 1943, when they were allowed to telegraph home. Dick arrived home in Woolacombe to his wife and two daughters May 4th 1943. An article "Grand to be back" appeared in the North Devon Journal Herald on the 6th of May 1943. Not long afterwards he was called back up as drivers with his skills were needed to drive tank transports to the front lines in Germany.

    He returned to Double Decker bus driving after the war and lived in Ilfracombe until his retirement. Dick died 7 Dec 2003 at the age of 93 proud of his service for his country.

    Mary Tossell

    F/Lt. William Alexander Jenkinson Johnson 112 Sqdn.

    My dad, William Johnson, joined up because he didn't like what Hitler was doing. He trained for a year in Zimbabwe, then went to join the war. He was based in Khartoum and was involved in various battles leading up to the first battle of El Alamein. He was shot down, then moved into the Qatari Desert. He was the talk of the desert when he tried to rescue his boss. He cut his radio, landed and the bullets flew, but he just could not get him out. He went back with two others but still could not get him out. However, they shot the place up.

    He was in Bara, Sulmona, then Bologna. Dad escaped in Italy but was recaptured and taken by cattle truck to Wernsburgh and then to Strasbourg to Fort Bismarck. After that he was sent to Stalagluft 3. His room mate was shot with Roger Bushell. Dad was the only Scotsman in the 112 and was on the long march. Dad finished up on the Danish border, perhaps taken by the SS. I don't know when he came back and how or when he left the RAF. He was in hut 112.


    Bmbdr. William Douglas Telfer "Mac" McIntosh 6th Anti Aircraft Regiment, 1st Searchlight Bty. Royal Artillery

    In 1943, Lance Bombardier William Douglas Telfer McIntosh, of the 1st Search Light Battery, 6th Anti Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (Dad) was a Prisoner of War in Campo 78, Fonte d’Amore, Sulmona, Abruzzo, Italy. He had been captured on 8th of April 1941 whilst on the African desert and was transported to Italy where he was incarcerated in Campo 78, Fonte d’Amore near Sulmona, Abruzzo Italy for two years.

    Some time in this year he developed a kidney stone to his right kidney. He became very unwell, the doctor of Campo 78 at that time was a Dr Torinto Sciuba. He made sure that Dad was taken to the Hospital (L’Annunziata) in the main street of Sulmona for the removal of that stone by an Italian surgeon. The building is now a museum, tourist information office and church. The hospital at that time was run by nuns. Dad was gravely ill and weighed only about 6 stone. He was on the first floor of the hospital in a room on his own. He should not have been kept in there for long. It was not for prisoners of war, but because he was so very ill he couldn’t go back to Campo 78.

    Maria Ginnetti worked in the laundry room at the hospital at that time and her daughter Paola used to go with her mother to help. Paola was 16 or 17 years of age at that time. She had been married and was already widowed. Her husband being killed in the war. I don’t know how or where. Paola and her mother used to share their food with Dad, bringing it into the hospital to try and build him up. Dad always said that he was visited by a very nice young Italian girl. There wasn’t much food for anyone in those days, so it was a very generous act by these two women. When there was a patrol by the Germans in the hospital area, Maria and Paola used to hide Dad under his bed, or in a wardrobe until the danger had passed. These two women were very brave and put their lives at risk by helping Dad. Paola did not know what had happened to Dad. One day he wasn’t there. She didn’t know that he had been taken to Germany and spent two years as a POW there in Stalag X1A, Magdeburg. Dad didn’t speak of this time. Only saying that the Germans were "a little less kind than the Italians".

    Paola was very pleased to know that Dad had survived the hard times he had endured. I told her just how ill he had been and on his arrival in Germany spent some time in a hospital there. I don’t know how long. I also told her that on his return to England he met Mum (Phyllis) in Hospital in Manchester in 1945 and later that year they were married and that Dad, in 1946, developed TB and spent a good deal of time in a sanatorium near Eastleigh in Hampshire.

    Paola married again, a man called Pasquale. She had two daughters, Rossella and Angela. What a coincidence, my own sister being Angela. Her daughter Rossella Di Iorio, has one daughter called Fabrizia Presutti. Rossella’s husband is Claudio Presutti and they live in Sulmona. Her other daughter Angela is married to Alberto Ginnetti, a coincidence about the same surname, they have two sons, and live in Rome. Alberto speaks very good English, this is how I have gleaned so much information. On Tuesday 29 August 2006 my husband and I went to the Europa Park Hotel, Sulmona to meet with Alberto, Angela, Rossella and Fabrizia. We needed to meet on mutual ground as neither side knew if the other were genuine or not. Alberto told me that Paola had remembered that the English man in hospital was called William. We eventually established that we were speaking about the same man. Alberto invited Jerry and me to Paola’s apartment to talk about the time in 1942/43. Paola is a lovely gentle lady, as are all her family. She was widowed about 7 years ago. She was 80 years old on 25 August 2006. She showed us photographs of her when she was young. When we showed her the photograph of Dad taken in Campo 78 she immediately recognised him and remarked that I was very like him to look at. Dad didn’t actually ever stay with Maria and Paola at Via Roma 15, Sulmona, the address they were living at during that time. The help they gave was at the hospital only. Having now made contact it is my intention to stay in touch with the whole family. I hope, one day, if her English is good enough, that Fabrizia may be granted a bursary and come to England.

    My Dad served Overseas with the British Expeditionary Force from the 14th of September 1939 to 13th of June 1940, in Egypt from 23rd of July 1940 to 7th of April 1941 and was in Italy as a PoW from 8 April 1941 to 13th June 1944 the in Germany (PoW) from 14th of June 1944 to 25th of April 1945. His Military Conduct is listed as Exemplary and his Testimonial reads: "A good type of man. Thoroughly honest, sober and reliable. He has been a POW in Italy and Germany for years and in spite of the experiences he has gone through he has returned with morale high."

    Patricia Chandler

    Gnr. Alfred Thomas Martindale MiD. Light Anti-Aircraft Royal Artillary

    I am the half sister of Tom Martindale, but I knew nothing of his existence until starting to delve into family history. We met for the first time just over twenty years ago, and just in time for he died shortly afterwards. I have since discovered how brave my big brother was. His name is on The London Omnibus List for gallant and distinguished services in the field, and he is "mentioned in despatches".

    He was captured at Mechilion on the 8th of April 1941 and sent via Gapua, Bolzano, Sulmona and Aquila to Campo 78 in Sulmona. During his short time in Bolzano he and several other POW's had escaped from guards while out walking. He made his way towards Switzerland travelling mostly at night, but was recaptured and sent back to camp. He then escaped from campo 78, after the armistice was organised by the senior British officer, and walked South with another escapee meeting British troops at Termoli on 3rd of October 1943.

    I am in possession of his war medals and ribbons and also of his prisoner tags and a signet ring on a piece of string. My half sister (his sister too) who is now 100 years of age has been able to give me most of this information.

    Shirley Ross

    William Douglas Telfer McIntosh

    My father, William Douglas Telfer McIntosh, was transferred to Stalag X1a in 1944 from Campo 78 Sulmona, Italy. I have a lot of information on Italy, but he was most reluctant to speak about his time in Germany. He died in 2003. I don't have any photographs of his time there. Does anyone have any?

    Patti Chandler

    Pte. Robert William Bedford

    I know very little about my dad, Bob Bedford getting home from Campo 78 in Sulmona, Italy but he was on the Pathe News hanging out of a railway carriage window as one of the first POW's to arrive home. My dad died at the age of 69.

    Jennifer Jenkins

    Pte. Harry Twidle 4th Btn. Yorkshire Regiment

    I know my father, Harry Twidle was in Stalag 11A prison camp. I am writing a book about it. I have all his war letters and those from his time in PG 78 and Magdaburg, Berlin before the end of the war.

    Lin Treadgold

    Tpr. Albert William Roe Royal Armoured Corps

    My father Albert Roe was taken prisoner in Libya, Fort Mechelli on 8 April 1941 and was incarcerated in Sulmona, Italy from May 1941 until September 1943 when he was rounded up by the Germans and sent in a cattle truck to Germany. He was in Stalag IVc until the liberation of the camp by the Ukrainians. He was handed over to the Americans and his document of liberation by them is dated 20 May 1945. I have all the letters he sent from Sulmona and Stalag IVc, which he occasionally called IVB, which may have been the parent camp. All the letters are addressed to IVc and there is a disciplinary document marked IVc. He worked in coal mines in Bohemia. Presumably these were open cast, though he did not say that they were. All the mines around Wistritz seem to be open cast.

    He returned to England in the summer of 1945. On his return home his mother, who was not expecting him, did not recognise the person she had last seen in 1940. He had lost a great deal of hair and his teeth, soon to be extracted, were in terrible shape. He seldom talked about his experiences. There seemed to be a large number of nationalities and the Russians did not relish being freed by the Ukranian division. My father told me that the Russians shelled the camp before entering, killing several inmates, including one man, who the day before had been expressing his excitement at his forthcoming freedom. The Germans did not treat the Italians or the Slavs very well at all apparently. Conditions were bad for him too. It seems akin to slave labour there.

    Stephen Roe

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